Then She Stood By the Brave

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. It was originally published on April 8, 2014.


**DISCLAIMER: the situation you are about to read about is in good hands and I ask that you not try to contact any of my siblings. They are safe and things are being taken care of.

About a month ago I got a phone call letting me know one of my siblings was being admitted to the mental health ward. All I could think was when it is going to be enough, how many more of my siblings are going to suffer.

Their story is theirs to tell, not mine, but I want to tell you about a story that has continued to unfold over the past few weeks.

Phil and I went to visit my sibling in the psych ward, and I saw my sibling relaxed, a little medicated, but they were relaxed, peaceful, and they were safe there and they knew it. We brought one of my other brothers in to visit our sibling and I found out that he had been faithfully visiting his sibling the whole time during their psych visit. This brother is the one I have had my spats with growing up, and in fact, thanks to him I have a nice numb spot on my hand from one of our fights. This brother is also the one I see holding one of the biggest, caring hearts I have ever seen. The fact that he would purposefully take time out of his day to go visit his sibling in the psych ward every day they were is a huge indicator of just how big his heart is.


I am now barely 2 months away from having this child of mine.

I am becoming more and more aware of how important it is to stand firm with my boundaries when it comes to my mom and my dad. I somehow found myself in a position last week where I was asked by my mom to “draw out” my sibling who had been in the psych ward. My sibling had been asking to be admitted again that morning and wouldn’t talk to mom or anyone else about what was going on. Inwardly I knew my sibling was only going to talk to me and that’s why my mom was pushing me to talk with them. After spending awhile chatting, I knew what I needed to know and just let my sibling know that I was there whenever they needed me. The rest of my visit over there ended in me putting my foot down and being completely blunt with my mom. I told her my exact thoughts on how her staying with my dad was at the expense of the kids and how he wasn’t changing, how I didn’t believe her when she said he was, and just watched her shut down as I refused to let her screwed up logic change my stance.

In that moment I realized I have changed.

I am no longer blinded by the manipulative logic my dad uses to control those around him.

I could see right through everything my mom said and was able to see things I had known were there but had never been able to put words to. I am stronger, I am clear headed, I have changed, and yet, it became painfully obvious she hasn’t changed. She is still toxic to me, she is still clinging to some delusion that my dad is changing, and until she can let go of that and actually protect her children from that man, I have to be careful to keep boundaries in place.

It was encouraging to see how therapy has really worked and I have been able to break so many chains that had previously greatly bound me. I am also in a position now where when a sibling needs help, I’m one of the first people they call, and hell, I’m out the door before they can even coherently say anything other than to beg me to come get them. Which is what happened recently, and which included a visit to my siblings’ school counselor who after hearing our story immediately called Child Protective Services to make a report. I have proven to my siblings, the ones who need it most, that I am not the mean, evil older sister my dad makes me out to be. I am who I say I am and I will drop everything for them if they need me.

I sat in that office and watched my siblings find their strength as they stood up to the abuse they have personally suffered from our dad. My heart bursting with pride, I backed up their stories, and watched as they willingly gave information that will hopefully make a difference. I watched my siblings make very brave and bold decisions despite the possibility of facing retaliation. They are doing what I wish I could have done years ago, they are brave enough to stand up and say enough is enough and it hopefully will truly be enough.

The little girl inside of me wept as I proudly stood by my brave siblings.

I felt like I watched my childhood come full circle. The shame of not being “strong enough” to stand up to my dad was put to rest as I stood there being my siblings’ support. I went through what I had to so that I could be there for my siblings when they needed me. I am stronger now, I have the strength they needed to be able to be brave themselves. I can validate their fears and tell them they’re not crazy despite what the man at home will say. I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a good reason to have gone through what I have if only to be the support my siblings need.

I’m feeling hopeful, I am full of pride, and so relieved I can be there for the siblings who call for help and I can be there to lift up their voices.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel 

5 thoughts on “Then She Stood By the Brave

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy April 29, 2014 / 9:43 am

    Eschet chayil.


  2. Katie April 29, 2014 / 2:47 pm

    “All I could think was when it is going to be enough, how many more of my siblings are going to suffer.” Oh do I know that feeling…after seeing one sister in the psych ward, and a brother who spends days at a time in his room, reading and playing minecraft and never seeing another child his age at all…It is so hard to be a support system to siblings without trying to “parent” them…but your story is giving me hope.


  3. gloraelin April 29, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    Your siblings are so lucky to have a sister like you. So very, very lucky.


  4. Rebecca May 1, 2014 / 7:38 am

    I got chills as I could have almost written this word for word.
    ‘she is still clinging to some delusion that my dad is changing, and until she can let go of that and actually protect her children from that man, I have to be careful to keep boundaries in place..’
    gut twisting yes.
    Details differ slightly but the end result the same.
    But you and I – we are strong now.
    And since we are now healthy we can be what they need…..
    While it is hard to hear there are others who know this this heartbreak, it is wonderful to know there are others who have come out the other side strong, brave, and free.
    longggg hug.


  5. Brave May 15, 2014 / 7:17 am

    Thank you for sharing. In our family my mother was more of the manipulative controller and my father was narcissistic – all he cared about was that he appeared the victim or the well-renown father of accomplished children. We also grew up in a quiver-full, authoritarian church (long hair, big family, women keep silent).

    I was the oldest of nine, and often times I wondered if they ever stopped fighting and playing victim long enough to realize they had children. They only seemed to notice us if we could be used as a tool against the other or would implore us to be the “peacemaker” to wayward children. “Peacemaking” is the term my parents liked to use which meant tell them they are wrong and we are right.

    I married to get out of this lifestyle to the first person who would ask me, to a person who didn’t seem to want to dominate me. Unfortunately, I had no idea what true drug addiction was and he slipped into a horrible addiction 6 months after we were married. Four years later, I have finally found the strength to walk through a divorce after he relapsed 1 week after finding out I was pregnant with our first child.

    During this process I left the church I have affectionately nick-named “the cult” and have found a new support system and a church that loves instead of condemns. This has given me the strength and the support to walk my journey.

    Recently, two of my sisters were kicked out of the house literally homeless for their “rebellious” attitude – one of them had been financially supporting my mother and both had little savings and no warning. They ended up moving in with my sister and I into a small two-bedroom.

    While, I am sad that this is happening this way, I too am learning my boundaries and have told them that I am only their sister and not their mother – that this path is their own. I have chosen not to lay claim to their hurt and instead let them feel and work through it. I have stood up to my mother and told her that I need distance to heal and that I will not take any responsibility for her relationships with my brothers, sisters, and dad.

    Despite the pain, I have learned that I am brave and courageous. So when my own little girl gets here in several months, I plan on naming her Emory which means brave.


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